Setting solar power up for success

10 October 2008

It’s no surprise that many dairy businesses are considering solar power, with energy being by far the biggest running cost in the dairy.

Most energy in the dairy is used to cool milk and heat water for plant cleaning.

CowTime’s Darold Klindworth urges dairy farmers considering solar power to do their homework first, to make sure the system they install is a success.

"Solar systems involve a significant capital outlay with a medium to long term pay back period, so a mistake will be costly," he said.

Doing the homework should involve searching for government grants, considering a back up system and reviewing the need for structural support if the system is to be roof-mounted.

A number of government grants may be available to subsidise the capital outlay. Accessing a grant may make the difference between being able to afford a solar system or not.

"It may also be necessary to invest in a gas or electric booster system because many solar systems are unable to heat water to a temperature suitable for dairy use all year round," Darold said.

The amount of water heated and the temperature achieved will depend on the location, particular installation and the size of the system but a rule of thumb is that water is heated to just over double the maximum air temperature on any given day.

Before committing to a solar system, review the specifications because some roof-mounted systems may require additional structural support which will add to the set up costs.

Other ways to reduce power use in the dairy include heat recovery systems and variable speed drives on the milk or vacuum pump.

For more information refer to the CowTime Quick Note 3.5 or contact Darold Klindworth, ph 03-5624-2269.

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